This is going to be painfully difficult for any Miami Hurricanes fan to actually want to read. After losing 33-17 to LSU Sunday, in a game I was (unfortunately) present for, its hard to find any positive takeaways. But let’s think about the fact that there were some good things to build upon, and carry some hope into the easier 3-4 game portion of the schedule.
Willis was an enormous question mark heading into the LSU game. We know how talented he is, and all reports out of camp said he was dominating, even against first-team linemen. But we questioned his state of mind after missing all of last season for personal reasons, and we questioned how good the line itself was.
Willis silenced any lingering doubts. He was dominant. It’s hard to fathom that, in a game that was 33-3 at one point. ‘Big G’ became the first Miami player since 2008 to record 4 TFL in one game. He could potentially have had even more on plays where he broke free into the backfield and actually missed a tackle or two. He was rewarded with ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors, and flashed the potential that could make him a high draft pick come April.
If it was just the two incredible catches alone, Thomas would have made this list anyway. But he totaled 5 catches for 132 yards, by far the best game of his young career, and showed Hurricanes fans that he may very well be the best playmaker on the roster. He was active in deep routes as well as intermediate, and his speed will even blow the top off elite secondaries like LSU possesses.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) September 3, 2018
With Ahmonn Richards suffering a bone bruise in his knee, Thomas could emerge as UM’s most dependable receiver at least in the next 3 games when I’m sure the coaches will not rush to get Richards back to playing a huge majority of snaps.
Freshmen in action
As a whole, this was a wildly difficult setting for true freshmen to make their debuts. AT&T Stadium is overwhelming from the moment you walk in, and the LSU crowd drowned out the large Canes contingent with their hot start.
While I don’t agree with the volume of rotations and backups that Mark Richt and his staff like to implement, it is definitely a positive that 13 freshmen saw action Sunday, some of them making immediate impacts.
Brian Hightower made a fantastic 32 yard touchdown grab in the 4th quarter. It was his first career catch. Brevin Jordan was open on two huge plays in the 4th quarter where Malik Rosier overthrew him. Cornerback Al Blades Jr. saw extensive time after Trajan Bandy was ejected in the first quarter. Kicker Bubba Baxa hit a 38 yard field goal and missed a 45 yarder, and handled all kickoff duties.
Overall, its hard to expect wow plays from the kids in their first real action, but I thought they handled themselves well and the experience of this game will benefit them for the season. Expect to see much more of them in the Savannah State and FIU games coming up.
As hard as it was to swallow that the Hurricanes got outcoached, out-talented, and physically dominated, there were factors to be optimistic about for the rest of the season. I expect Miami to be 4-1, and ranked in the teens come week 6 when FSU rolls into town.
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